Saturday, January 30, 2016
The Fairy Queen's departure left them with lots to think about, and very little to say. Ian had tried to get them all interested in a game of gin rummy, but it was obvious that minds were lost in contemplation over the strange details they'd seen and heard. The named heir of Merlin seemed especially surly, staring off into space with a look that warned against any attempt at conversation, while his Lady fled to the kitchen, minus any fairy wings, with the excuse of prepping things for tomorrow's breakfast. This being the general mood, it was no surprise when the group decided to call it an early evening and headed off to bed.
Several hours later, Beckett found himself still wide awake despite every attempt to reach exhaustion. Next to him, Maureen was nearly comatose, snoring in those breathy little puffs that came only when she had totally abandoned herself over to sleep, and when he slipped out of bed,
she shifted positions but never woke. He pulled on a pair of pants, and after checking security, closed the door behind him and headed down the stairs with no real purpose in mind.
The second floor was quiet, though as he passed Roxanne's suite, he could hear two whispering voices behind the closed door. He smiled to himself, glad that they both had kept their fun and games in the house where things were safer and decidedly more comfortable. Across the hall, a small sliver of light came from under the door to Kevin's room, and for a second, he considered checking if the priest might be up for some conversation and Irish whiskey, but then changed his mind mid knock. He already knew what his brother-in-law thought about all of this, and if he was looking for some kind of approval, it wasn't going to come from Fr. Kevin.
Instead, he continued down the stairs, ending up in the great room they had vacated three hours before. Even with sweeping skylights, the room was dark and gloomy, the foliage that had grown around the house getting thicker everyday, and blocking any moonlight the windows might have offered. It made him feel closed in, so tucking his Glock into the waistband of his running shorts, he grabbed a glass and the decanter of Jamesons from the liquor cabinet, and headed out to the porch that ran the entire front of the cabin.
Outside, there were breaks in the trees, and small slices of moonlight filtered through the branches giving the clearing in front of him an almost unearthly glow. He heard the flapping of wings, and looking up, noticed a large raven had settled itself in the huge pine tree next to the porch. He wondered if it was just a regular bird...or something else, and then shook his head in disgust. It had all gotten to the point where moonlight wasn't just moonlight any more, and birds couldn't just be fucking birds. Pouring a shot of whiskey, then making it a double, he was was about to toss it back when she appeared on the railing in front of him. Annoyed, he tisked loudly, swallowed the contents of the glass, then added. "Don't you ever fucking sleep?"
"I could ask the same of you, Sir Knight. Your Lady slumbers peacefully. You should do the same." She snapped her fingers, and a small crystal glass the size of a thimble appeared in her hand. She pushed it out in front of him, implying he should pour.
Beckett measured out a drop or two, the refilled his own tumbler. "It wasn't for lack of trying."
She giggled, then sipped at the tiny glass in her hand. "Yes, you most surely put your Lady through her paces."
"You know...that's really sick. I hate when you act like some kind of damn cosmic Peeping Tom."
The Fairy Queen leaned against the railing post and smiled. "That is a lie you don't believe, but a conversation best suited for another time." She took another small sip before adding, "What keeps you from sleep, Ridre Dubh?"
"You need to ask? After that shit bomb of information you dropped tonight?"
"I realize it is much to take to heart, but surely you can not be entirely shocked." When he didn't answer, she continued. "You have had your doubts about your parentage since before you were in your teens. And your gifted life? You think it was left to chance? I do not believe you are so naive."
"I don't know what you mean."
"Of course you do, Mortal Prince. You are just too stubborn and hard headed to see it. Do you think that your gifts and talents were simply a matter of random luck? All the prizes and awards? The opportunities that opened themselves to you...left to normal human ability? What a ridiculous notion! Even as a child you were smarter...faster...better at games. You never suffered the awkward phase of adolescence, even having your first joust at love before a single hair grew on your chin. Women are drawn to you like moths to a flickering candle. And you believe this is the natural way of things? Even you can not be so stupid."
He wanted to protest, accuse her of pandering to his ego, but what she said hit a raw nerve. There had been countless times his good fortune had shocked even him. It had caused his brothers to hate him out of sheer jealousy, and despite his very best attempts to please his father, the bastard never once acknowledged his effort. It never made a bit of sense to him. Until now.
"Then I am correct, Mortal Prince. You have had your suspicions for some time. Move forward toward your destiny, and give up any childish notions that life as you knew it will remain the same."
"I told you before. I don't want to communicate this way."
"And I will not be forced to speak as mere mortal. I am Queen. You are still my Knight."
He remained silent for awhile, working to keep any cognitive thoughts out of his head so she could not read them, then gave up at the absurdity of the idea, the Jamesons making him far more open then he wished. "My father...the biological one...do you know who he is?"
"Aye. But that is a journey for you to make. To tell all now would rob you of the chance
to grow in knowledge."
"So...you're not going to tell me?"
"No. It is for your own good, Ridre Dubh. Your roots are yours to dig through. I will not keep you from that experience. Besides...your focus now must remain on defeating Owen. He will come at you using white and dark magic, and you must understand that he is skilled at both."
"I thought you said the Fay centered themselves on white magic. Why is he using dark?"
She looked away, then stuck out the cup for him to fill a second time, and he wondered if alcohol had the same effect on the Fay as it did for mortals. Her face took on an air of sadness, and it was clear that whatever she was about to say, made her very unhappy.
"I am to blame for Owen's dark magic. It was I who taught him."
"You? You use dark magic? The Fay's own Queen?"
Leaning forward, she pointed a delicate finger at him. "Do not judge me, Knight. You know very well that I can use both white and dark magic. It was my dark magic that sent you back in time to retrieve your Lady."
"So the Fay can do both?"
"No. Very few of them can. My mother could, and from her, I inherited the ability. My sister could not, but Owen, because he is my nephew, showed some promise. It was prideful of me, I know. But none of my descendants to date have shown the same ability, and so I thought no harm would come. It was a huge error on my part, one that has caused me much angst. He has taken a hateful turn, and with the power he has, is a huge threat. It is for that reason I must see this dilemma to its bitter end."
"And Maureen? Can she do both?"
She shook her head slowly. "No, it does not appear that she can. With time and proper training, she can become most proficient at using white magic, but she shows no skill with the dark." A shy smile grew across her face, her mood suddenly lifting. "But I have great hope for your offspring, Mortal Prince. With Merlin's heir as father, and royal Fay blood running in the mother's veins, a child of this union would be quite special indeed."
The idea of another child, his and Maureen's, sucked the breath from his chest, and his mind took a dark turn. IF there were another child. To date, any attempt to conceive had been met with no success, his wife's monthly sadness worn like a sweater she put on and off according to her cycle. He tried pushing the thought from his head before she could read it, the guilt something he intended to carry alone.
But it was too late. "Your guilt serves no purpose, Sir Knight. It is a distraction that is not needed at this time. Have heart, for I am certain your union will be bear fruit. The prophesy has promised as much, and my people and I eagerly await that joyous date."
Beckett fought against the need to ask, but with several shots of booze under his belt, his mind was like an open book, and she easily saw what he wanted to know.
"No. The child lost bore only your gift for dark magic. The Fay blood was almost non-existent in him. But there is time, and your self hatred only keeps you from using your abilities."
"Abilities? Hell! I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Until this afternoon, all my training was in the real world. The here and now. But this magic shit is something entirely different. I don't have the first clue as to what I'm doing! How the hell am I going to figure all this out?"
She leaned forward again, and floated over to perch on his knee. "You will need to apprentice with a seasoned sorcerer, though I dare say, there are few suitable ones left. But once the word is out about who you are, there will be no need to search for them. They will seek you out on their own, all wishing to have a part in the training of Merlin's heir. But that is for the future The time of conflict draws near. Owen comes soon."
"Then what the hell do you expect me to do? Besides the inner eye thing, and the mind chatter, what else is there? I'm sure that neither of those are gonna help me put down Owen."
The Fairy Queen stood and reached up to pat his cheek. "I'm so glad you asked, Mortal Prince. Let me give you a few quick lessons."
Daylight was beginning to break when Beckett finally pulled himself away, and headed off to bed. His head spun with rituals and techniques that until this night seemed like something from a kid's storybook, albeit a very odd and dark one. He had finally reached the point of exhaustion he had sought five hours earlier, but was strangely content in a way he could not explain.
Maeve watched him go, pleased with the progress they had made in only a few short hours. There was no mistake. Her Ridre Dubh was the real thing. A branch from a very impressive tree. She stood and stretched, the effects of the long night taking their toil on her diminutive body.
She raised a hand, and the large raven flew down to the railing across from her.
"You have heard all, Mia?"
The bird bobbed its jet black head.
"Well done, my little one. I want you to take this information to your Master. Tell him all you have seen and heard, but down play the Ridre Dubh's talent. And be sure he knows about the guilt the Knight holds over his lost child. I want Owen to believe he can use it against our Mortal Prince."
The raven bobbed again, and then with open wings, flew off into the lightening sky.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2016
All Rights Reserved